Smash season premiere recap: Another Op'nin', Another Show

With Karen and Ivy Lynn, her foe / Can Safran save it, or will it blow? / It's season 2 now so come on, let's go!
Ep. 01 | Aired Feb 5, 2013

YOUR MOMENT OF JEN A revamped season 2? Who cares -- all we really need is more J. Hud retro pastiche numbers.

Will Hart/NBC

Bombshell's star stalks all the way to a midtown bar called Table 46, where Derek is doing an interview with the New York Post's Michael Riedel (who, against all odds, has become a bona fide recurring character). As she's waiting for the director to stop shooting himself in the foot -- beware unflattering comments about Rebecca Duvall! -- she has a charged encounter with the night's third big new character: Jimmy, a supercilious bartender played by Newsies star Jeremy Jordan. It's clear that Jimmy, like Derek, is supposed to be a lovable jerk. In his first few appearances, though, Jimmy's more like a jerky jerk; considering Karen's relationship with Once-Perfect Dev, it's no shock there's a spark.

If you were a regular Gossip Girl viewer, it shouldn't surprise you to see that Smash's first Safranified episode features 1) a glamorous party where 2) numerous plot threads come to a head. (Come to think of it, so does its second.) Derek arrives at this shindig shortly after learning that Rebecca is now claiming she left Bombshell because he sexually harassed her. Tom and Sporto Sam arrive shortly after seeing Julia's husband, Frank, getting suspiciously close to another woman -- even though Julia's been saying that she and Mr. Science Teacher are trying to make things work. Eileen arrives calm, but soon grows frantic when she learns theater owner Roth isn't coming to the soiree after all. Clearly, there's just one way to mitigate this swirling drama: an on-the-nose duet between Karen and special guest Ronnie.

Man, "On Broadway" is a such a good song -- even when divorced from the indelible brand of crazy that is All That Jazz. But as American Idol's two most famous runners-up trade verses and engage in a battle of the "heyyyy ya ya ya ya ya"s (Jennifer Hudson wins, of course), I can't help being distracted by what's going on in the background -- namely, Sam and Tom telling Julia about Frank's extracurricular activities, and Eileen pulling Nick upstairs for some new age spell-casting/old fashioned ugly-bumping.

After the final notes fade away, Derek gets Karen alone in a room, kisses her hand, and tells her in a wonder-struck voice that she somehow has the power to make anything better. Color me shocked that he doesn't get down on one knee and start singing "Dulcinea" then and there. They're just about to finally lock lips when Ivy (of course) walks in on them. Derek follows her into the hallway, and she asks if he and Marilyn #3 are together. They aren't, according to the director, but he does have some bad news for his former leading lady all the same: She's out of Bombshell, on Karen's request.

When Karen later walks past a forlorn Ivy, she acts as though Ivy's very presence is an imposition. Come on, Iowa! But what Ivy does next makes up for her unfortunate choice of location. She tells Karen that she was right to get her fired, and follows that with this heartfelt plea: "You hate me. You should. But even you can't hate me as much as I hate myself for what I did... I'm truly sorry that I ever got in your way. Good luck." Oh, and she also lets slip that she almost "did something stupid" backstage at the first preview without coming out and admitting to her attempted attempted suicide. Karen is left thunderstruck, wondering if she's somehow become the jealous diva holding a grudge.

NEXT: Don't dream it's over! There's more than an hour to go!

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